Diffused transformation

This title will mean absolutely nothing if you’re not familiar with cornsnakes. Sorry about that. I like vague and cryptic titles. My blog is not a scientific paper, so there are no rules on what the title should be, and, well, fuck it, I’m the editor in this journal!

For those of you that are familiar with cornsnakes, it might mean a little more. This post is about the transformation that one of my cornsnake females is going through as she matures. I got her this summer from an old friend and reputable breeder in the Netherlands. He’s been in this snake game about as long as me, maybe even a little longer, which must be over 25 years then. I bought a couple of cornsnakes from him this August. This female was a gift he added to a pair I was particularly excited about. Of all snakes I own, this gift female is perhaps the one I’m now most curious about. I love this animal, and everything about her. The colors. The build. The character. The feeding response. It’s just a perfect snake. She looks different every week!

So this female. I haven’t started naming my animals yet. I never did. Maybe I will at some point. I somehow started to like it when other people do, but so far, though, she has gone by 0.1 diffused heterozygous charcoal, striped, anery, masque. Quite a mouthful. This name describes the particular simple recessive color and pattern genes that she carries, either visibly (homozygous), or behind the scenes (heterozygous). Combined with the other pair I obtained, she will in a couple of years give beautiful offspring in many colors and patterns. I love that.

As you may take from this description, this lady is ‘just’ a diffused cornsnake. The diffused gene is characterized by an unchecked belly, clean sides, with very diffused markings, that tend to diffuse more as they mature. Diffused has been used synonymously with the term bloodred, as some lineages, especially in the past, were deep red, compared to wildtype cornsnakes. However, the red, as has been found in more recent years, is mostly a product of selective line breeding, and is not so much a product of the diffused gene itself. This particular female though, is bloody bloodred! She’s absolutely amazing, and probably the reddest ‘simple’ diffused snake I have owned (I’ve had a bunch). This is pretty cool, because in my experience, female diffused tend to be less extreme. This one’s a looker! I think, in this particular animal, the transformation is quite striking, but interestingly, not on the pattern diffusion, but rather on the color intensity. I expect her patterns to diffuse a bit more in the future, but her colors have gone from the rather dull colors often seen in neonates, to bright red. This animal is only about five or six months old, and still has about two years to go to reach full adulthood. Nevertheless, she’s feeding, growing, and transforming like crazy. Yesterday, she slipped off her old skin, and revealed the latest developments in her color palette. I can’t wait to see how this snake will look in a year. Or better, what kind of offspring she will generate. With these reds, they promise to be bright. The future dad – who is a hypomelanistic piedsided diffused – is even brighter, as an effect of hypomelanism – which reduces black pigments.

I feel like someday I’m gonna have to do videos on these snakes, to do them more justice. Anyway, I hope someone enjoys looking at the pictures below, because I sure as hell love the subject.

13th of August (picture by breeder, A. Coenen, 2021)
Just after pickup, in shed, 25th of August
Freshly shed, today, the 27th of November

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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